A Girl & Her Camera//Interview With Samantha Smith

Happy almost end of January loves. I just cannot believe how time is flying by. As promised, I am dedicated to bringing you lots of fantastic interviews this year with people who inspire me. All of the my interviews now live in one category on the blog called Q & A. I hope you will take the time to read them and feel inspired by each and every one! This is my FAVORITE part of the blog actually. 

As long as I can remember, I have such a passion for photography and photographers. I feel like your camera is your vehicle to experience the world and share. I know that my lovely talented friend Sam feels the same way and I am truly so fortunate to have her featured on my blog. She has been taking a lot of my personal pictures and I am so in love with them. She has been shooting me for years and her photos are often the ones that I revisit time and time again. She has such a special eye and me being the most curious girl, wanted to know as much as possible about her passion. Sit back and enjoy this Q and A with the amazing Samantha Smith. I know you will adore getting to know her!

I have included her favorite photos that she captured all within the post!


-Tell me a little bit about yourself, the babe behind the camera?

Well, I was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma but I have lived in Germany, Switzerland, London, and Austin. I love traveling and meeting and new people and doing new things. I am in band called ShadeOut and we play progressive rock type of music and I am the lead singer. I make jewelry during my down time. I also have a Wallpaper Business on the side. Needless to say, I am always going going!

-Going back in time, how was your passion for photography born?

My passion for photography had started at an early age. I did ballet for 17 years, so movement and music helped my mind create pictures when I didn't even have a camera with me and I didn't fully understand photography. When you grow up around art, (and yes, I believe ballet is art in the fullest) you can teach yourself how to see the beauty in everything and that's what I did. Then when I was 18, I moved to Germany and traveling became another major notch in my passion for photography that is still relevant and true 11 years later. 

-How do you manage colour and black and white?

When I take a photo and review it immediately afterward, I instinctively know if it should be edited in Black & White or if it should stay in colour. There are certain photographs that just scream Black & White to me but it depends on the lighting, the subject, the story you're trying to tell in your own style, etc. Just because I take photographs doesn't mean that I am in control of what needs to happen with each of them. Their destiny is already written and I just try and help it to see the light of day and to become something.

-What kind of camera do you use?

Canon 50D.

-What determines if a photo is a "good" one or not?

I try to find a purpose and a soul behind each and every one of my photographs. I always want to tell a story and it's easy to do with just about anything if you look and take it all in. Allow yourself and your creative eye to take a beat and know you can take on anything. A "good" photograph to me is the trust and confidence in which you have with your camera, lenses, and photography in general. Trusting yourself and your vision and believing in all of it comes out in my photos. Photography will always be my strongest relationship as we listen, dance, argue, critique, and allow ourselves to change and grow together.  

-When you are shooting, do you have an image in your mind? Do you build the final photo before shooting it or are your images also a result of a post-production phase?

Typically, I have ideas, inspirations, and visions before I go out for a shoot. If I go out to shoot for the sake of shooting and see what the world decides to give me when I am out, then I don't have any kind of preconceived ideas or constraints. As a fellow human yourself, you know how amazing and/or daunting it is to know and not know but having that kind of relationship with my photography allows me to still have fun with it all and it doesn't keep me stagnant. I don't like to stay in the lines on a constant basis of building or not building a final photo before I shoot it. I kind of like knowing that I sometimes don't know and I am allowing my subjects and their stories and the photographs do the talking. Photography is the soul, I am just the able body.

-What training do you follow? Who inspired you? And why?

When I really got into photography, I looked at every single photographer, flickr account, magazines. books, and went into incredible art galleries all over the world just to see and find out everything I could. I wanted to see what all the photographers were doing. I wanted to know how they did it. I wanted to know their secrets. Then, after some time, you realize that you can't go chasing around other people's ideas of photography and artistry. I cannot morph into the photographers I aspired to be like because then I wouldn't be myself. I wanted my own vision, my own ideas, my own fuck-ups, and my own attention to detail, etc. Photography inspires me as they are daring to be themselves and to show the world what they see. It's really beautiful. 

- What was your very first camera?

Polaroid 600.

- What is photography to you? And what should not be instead?

Photography is movement, music, a captured and re-created feeling, a moment in time, a chance to stand up and speak your mind without words, a person you want to be, a piece of history, etc. I don't ever want to be the person to tell anyone what photography shouldn't be as there are no boundaries and no rules to photography. It's a living and breathing entity. We are all allowed and are welcomed to push the limits of photography. That is what makes photography and photographers all around the world so different and yet so alike. 

-What is your favorite technique?

Oh Lord. We all know I love a good line shot. Architecture and Linear shots are my downfall as they create more shapes within shapes. Each line represents something to someone and everyone sees something different. One photograph can speak differently to a million different people who look at it. Interpretation is a human right and it should be held near and dear to everyone. 

-What is your best shot and what does it represent for you?

I can't say I have a favorite or personal best shot of mine. There are a lot in my portfolio that call out to me more than others and they are all so different. My photography, no matter if the subject is a person, place, or thing, will always represent being a student of life and being eager to learn, create, be humble, and TRY. 

- You do have a thing for lines lately..can you tell me a little more about this? 

I think I have always been slightly obsessed with lines. It might be the fact that, as a photographer, you can capture phone lines or lines from wood/brick/concrete/buildings/sky into something else that only YOU see at the time you're shooting. There's a huge sense of feeling like you're in this secret club or unit when you see more shapes or different shapes and you see a story inside of what should be a pre-made story. It's as if you're getting to create a brand new painting over an older painting you weren't quite sold on but you can use some of the lines, if you choose to, from the old painting onto the new painting. 

-Favorite albums to listen to when editing?

Frank Ocean, "Blonde"

Childish Gambino, "Awaken, My Love!"

The Cramps, "Songs The Lord Taught Us"

Donnie & Joe Emerson, "Dreamin' Wild"

FKA Twigs, "LP 1"

-What inspires your photography the most?

Music and feelings. Those two things are incredibly important to my life and how I choose to live. I have always allowed myself to be able to feel my feelings and never be ashamed of them. Always express myself. Sometimes when I don't want to talk, my photography allows me to feel and say something without talking out loud and that is so incredibly important and vital to who I am as a person. Music is a huge inspiration to my photography because it says something you want to say but it was written by someone else and you feel like this musician got into your mind and your soul and stole your feelings and word for word, wrote down how you were feeling. It's incredibly powerful and unlike anything else in the world. In my band, ShadeOut, when I sing and when we perform, I get inspiration from my own lyrics and our music and then it transfers to a picture or a series of photographs in my mind. Always allow your artistic outlets as they can inspire your other creative outlets. 

-What lens can you not live without?

Canon EF 28-135mm Lens

-What do you think makes the difference between short-lived success and longevity as a photographer - especially with the advent of social media?

I think passion has a lot to do with it. If you aren't passionate about something you're selling and something you believe in with all of your heart and soul, then it comes across to all viewers. If I didn't have passion in my bones about photography, it would be extremely visible in all of my photographs. I think Social Media is wonderful. We get to share a platform with everyone else in the world and we get to have a voice and share our visions and have support from people you know and also from complete strangers. It can be a place where a lot of good can happen and we can all feel like a team. 

-You know I am intrigued by your sense of style so shifting gears, how would you describe your sense of style when in the fashion world?

My personal style has a lot to do with my personal preference, music tastes, moods, artwork I am currently digging, and photographs I accidentally come across. I like playing with textures and colors and pushing the envelope in my own way. I've never been ashamed of my body but I am not a girly girl in anyway so I don't wear tight/revealing clothing and even though I don't see anything wrong with that, it just makes me feel like I am having an out of body experience. I was the little 7 year old tomboy girl who called her mom during a sleepover and asked if I could paint my nails hot pink because that was the only nail color available to me and made me uncomfortable in my own skin. I always dress for myself and I just go for it. (as long as it makes me feel comfortable)

-Oldest thing in your closet?

I think the oldest thing in my closet would be this 1930's Russian Fur Coat but then on the other hand, I do have an old Hollister shirt that says "Hottie" on it. One I wear and the other I look at and laugh and it reminds me of my silly teenage years.

-Who are your fave fashion designers?

Favorite fashion designers would have to be Tom Ford, Vetements, Stella McCartney, Alexander Wang, and Yves Saint Laurent. I like depth when it comes to fashion. I like lines and structure being paired with something that flows or big chunks of metal and floral influences. Pushing boundaries and people's perception of "normal" has always been important to me. 

-You have a show coming up at Mainline...so exciting...give me the deets? How are you feeling about this? and what can you give us a hint of what we can expect?

Thanks for bringing this up! The Photography Show at Mainline is Friday, February 3rd (which will be held during First Friday) at 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM. The theme of the show is titled "Home" so the images that Steve Monroe's, The Back Gallery, have chosen from my collection all have to do with a sense of being home, missing home, what home means to you and me, and it really brings forward the ideals in which we all pertain to as what makes you think of and the feeling(s) you may get when you hear or see the word, "Home". I will have 3 images up for the month of February at Mainline and they will be for sale. I have decided to frame these chosen photographs in Orange Neon Acrylic to bring another level of depth perception to the table.  I am humbled, honored, and grateful to be a part of this event that will showcase many incredible Tulsa talents. 

(RSVP here or just show up.)

Local loves, I hope to see you at Mainline for First Friday. I will be there so come say hang. Follow along with Sam here as she takes you on her amazing journeys with photography. Her gram is seriously one of my faves.